How employers can support employee nutrition05/02/2024 2024-02-05 11:58
How employers can support employee nutrition
Employee nutrition directly impacts on an organisation’s success. The link between the two might seem unclear at first, but it’s there.
For instance, a well-nourished workforce is more likely to show higher energy levels, improved concentration, and enhanced cognitive function. In fact, employees who choose more unhealthy foods are 66% more likely to be less productive than those who make healthy food choices.
There’s a link to mental health as well. Nutrition positively influences mood and mental wellbeing, reducing stress and promoting a positive work environment. There are also studies to suggest that employees who maintain a healthy diet are less prone to chronic illnesses, reducing the risk of them being affected by health issues and long-term absence. Good nutrition also plays a pivotal role in promoting quicker recovery when employees do fall ill.
With the average person spending around a third of their life at work, supporting your employees to make healthy food choices can significantly contribute to a more vibrant, engaged, and productive workforce. At Wellness Cloud, we’ve been providing nutrition support to our clients since we began. And lots of companies are now recognising the importance of educating and empowering their employees to make more healthy choices when it comes to food.
Workforce nutrition strategies
If you’re unsure where to begin with supporting your employees’ nutrition, we’ve listed below ten key strategies you can implement to get started. Here are several strategies to promote healthy choices and support employee nutrition in the workplace:
- Education and awareness. Start by educating your workforce to empower them to make informed decisions about their dietary habits. Offer workshops, seminars, or lunch-and-learn sessions led by nutrition experts to educate employees about the importance of healthy eating, understanding food labels, portion control, and making balanced food choices.
- Provide access to healthy options. Evaluate the food options available in the workplace cafeteria, vending machines, or during company-sponsored meetings and events. Consider partnering with local healthy food vendors or introducing healthier menu options that include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Promote the sharing of healthy snacks, such as fruit boxes above biscuits and sweets, and ensure that water is readily accessible and promoted as the primary beverage of choice.
- Offer flexible breaks and designated spaces. Encourage a workplace culture that supports regular breaks for meals or snacks. Provide designated areas where employees can prepare, refrigerate and reheat food, such that there is less necessity to buy quick take-away options, and also enjoy their meals away from their desks. This also promotes mindful eating and allows individuals to recharge, leading to better productivity and overall wellbeing.
- Provide nutrition resources or coaching. Offer access to nutritional consulting or nutritionist services as part of your employee benefits package. Providing confidential sessions where employees can seek personalised advice on their dietary concerns or goals can be highly beneficial.
- Implement wellness challenges and programmes. Organising challenges or initiatives centred around healthy eating habits, such as a ‘fruit and veggie challenge’ where employees are encouraged to increase their daily intake of fruits and vegetables can build healthy habits in a positive way. You can also offer incentives or rewards to motivate participation and sustained engagement.
- Encourage physical activity. While not directly related to nutrition, promoting physical activity complements healthy eating habits. Consider offering gym memberships, organizing fitness classes, or encouraging walking meetings to support a holistic approach to employee wellness.
- Lead by example. Leadership plays an important role in setting the tone for a healthy workplace culture. Encourage managers and senior leaders to model healthy eating behaviours. When leaders prioritise nutrition and wellness, it sends a powerful message to the entire workforce.
- Encourage feedback and regular check-ins. Engaging in regular conversations with employees about their wellness needs, as well as collecting feedback through surveys or focus groups, helps to understand the preferences and challenges specific to your workforce. This insight can guide the development of targeted strategies.
- Implement supportive policies. Developing and communicating supportive policies that prioritise employee health and nutrition promotes a positive change throughout the workforce. Consider policies that encourage healthy snack options in meetings or discourage working through lunch breaks.
- Celebrate milestones. Recognising and celebrating milestones achieved by employees in their journey towards better nutrition and wellness reinforces motivation and increases their sense of achievement. Acknowledging their efforts also reinforces the value placed on health within the company culture.
By implementing these strategies, employers can create an environment that supports and encourages healthy eating habits amongst employees, without discriminating or ostracising those employees engaging is less-healthy eating patterns. It allows for the right level of support for everyone, whilst motivating the whole workforce to make positive changes together.
Prioritising employee nutrition not only enhances employee wellbeing but also contributes to a more engaged, focused, and thriving workforce. Ultimately, investing in employee health is an investment in the success and sustainability of the entire organisation.